Extract from the Book
Psychic Self-Defense by Dion Fortune
THE PATHOLOGY OF NON-HUMAN CONTACTS
THERE are other forms of life as well as ours whose sphere of evolution impinges upon the earth. In the realm of folk-lore we constantly meet with the idea of intercourse between the human and the fairy kingdoms; of the marriage of a human being with a fairy spouse, or the theft of a child by the fairies, an impish changeling being left in its place. We shall be rash if we assume that an extensive body of folk-belief is entirely without foundation in fact. Let us therefore examine these old and crude beliefs and see whether we can find any grounds for them, and if so, what the real nature of the facts may be, and whether they throw any light upon modem psychic phenomena of the kind we are considering in these pages.
There are many of us who have met people who might well be described as non-human, soulless, in that the ordinary human motives are not operative with them, nor do the ordinary human feelings prompt or inhibit them. We cannot but love them, for they have great charm, but we cannot but dread them as well, for they spread an infinitude of suffering around them. Although seldom deliberately evil, they are singularly detrimental to all with whom they come in contact. They, for their part, are unhappy and lonely in our midst. They feel themselves to be alien and uncompanioned; every man’s hand is against them, and in consequence it all too often happens that their hand is against everyone and they develop a puckish malevolence, though there is seldom calculated evil-doing. Gratitude, compassion, good faith,
morality and common honesty are utterly foreign to their natures, as far beyond their conception as the differential calculus. They are not immoral, however, but simply non-moral. On the other hand, they possess the virtues of absolute sincerity and great courage. In terms of human ethics they are “undesirables,” but they have an ethic of their own to which they are loyal, and that is the beauty which is truth, and this is all they know, and, as far as their life is concerned, all they need to know. In appearance they are usually small and slight, possessing unusual physical strength and endurance but very liable to nervous exhaustion and brain-storms. In social relations they take violent likes and dislikes; they show a facile and demonstrative affection towards those they like, but quickly forget them. Gratitude and pity are unknown to their nature. Towards those they dislike they are pettily malicious, and in all relations of life they are utterly irresponsible. One cannot describe them better than to say that they resemble nothing so much as a blend of Persian kitten and pet monkey. They have the beauty and aloofness and charm of the cat, and the amusing, mischievous destructiveness of the monkey. Many human beings hate them at sight; others are fascinated by them because they bring with them a sense of unearthly beauty and a quickening of the life-forces. I have been able to investigate the history of two such beings, and it is interesting to note that both of them were conceived while their mothers were under the influence of drink. There is a very great deal of information available concerning the occult aspect of the incarnation of souls, but not much of the knowledge concerning the actual facts of conception has ever found its way into print. I have given a little in my book, The Esoteric Philosophy of Love and Marriage. I cannot enter into the subject deeply in these pages, for it would be too much of a digression. Some points, however, it is essential to touch upon for a comprehensive survey of our subject.
At the moment of sexual union a psychic vortex is formed resembling a waterspout, a funnel-shaped swirling that towers up into other dimension. As body after body engages, the vortex goes up the planes. In all cases the physical, etheric and astral bodies are involved; the vortex therefore always reaches as far as the astral plane; a soul upon the astral plane may be drawn into this vortex if it is ripe for incarnation, and thus enter the sphere of the parents. If the vortex extends higher than the astral plane, souls of a different type may enter this sphere, but such extension is rare, and therefore it is said that man is born of desire, for few are born of anything else.
But this vortex may not only extend vertically up the planes (speaking metaphorically), but it may also, under certain conditions, be deflected, as it were, out of the normal human line of evolution, so that its open end extends into the sphere of evolution of another type of life. Under such circumstances it is theoretically possible for a being of a parallel evolution to be drawn into incarnation in a human body. Occultists hold that this occasionally occurs, and explains certain types of non-pathological abnormality which are occasionally met with.
These non-humans are either adored or hated by their human associates. They have a peculiar fascination for certain types of temperament, the types that psychologists call the unstable. In these types the subconscious comes very near to the surface, deep calls to deep, and they are instinctively drawn towards the elemental kingdoms.
There is nothing more disastrous than marriage with a non-human, for they have nothing in their nature that can satisfy the normal human yearnings for affection and sympathy. The one saving feature in such a union is that grounds for divorce are invariably readily available, for the morals of the non-human are those of the barnyard.
The power of non-humans to injure their enemies is comparatively small, for they are aliens in a strange land when incarnated in human form, and cannot avail themselves of any of the ordinary human resources of mischief. They are, in fact, singularly defenceless and helpless, and themselves suffer acutely at the hands of society. It is otherwise, however, in their relations with their friends. They seem to have an infinite capacity for inflicting hurt on those who love them. Not deliberately or maliciously, but like a child pulling flies to pieces out of idleness, not realising what it is doing. Obeying the laws of their own nature, they are destructive to beings of the human evolution. Yet what other laws can they obey? For them to submit to our standards is to deny their deepest instincts.
The effect they have upon those who love them constitutes such a well-marked syndrome among the psychic pathologies that we must consider it in detail. The person who forms a rapport with a non-human becomes deeply stirred by the elemental forces that find ingress to our sphere through the channel of this wandering and alien soul. He becomes, as it were, drawn away from normal human things and set wandering upon the confines of the fairy kingdom, and yet he can find there no rest for his foot and no sustenance for his soul. The story of the handsome fisher-lad and the mermaid is indicative of this condition. She loves him, draws him to her and he drowns, for he cannot live in the element of water.
The explanation of the curious power, both of fascination and destruction, which is exercised by non-humans may lie in the fact that they belong to one element only, whereas in man all four are combined. Any elemental contact is stimulating to us, because elemental beings pour forth in abundance the vitality of their own particular sphere, and this vitalises the corresponding element in ourselves. But if a four-element creature is drawn into the sphere of a single element he is poisoned by an overdose of the one element in which he finds himself, and starved of the other three. It is for this reason that mortals in the fairy kingdom are always said to be enchanted or asleep. They are never living normally in full possession of their faculties.
An equally difficult problem is set to the non-human who is drawn into our midst. A single-element creature is bidden to control and assimilate an additional three elements for which it has no equipment or experience, and the result is disastrous.
But it is not enough that we should merely describe the conditions and state the problem in these pages. Our aim is essentially practical. What then can be done when a non-human has to be faced and dealt with? It must be clearly realised that any mating between a human and a non-human is a hopeless proposition. In the first place, it can only be the preamble to a divorce, because non-humans are promiscuous in their sexual habits; and, secondly, there is nothing in the nature of a non-human that can satisfy the higher aspirations of the human. We must not allow the human form to mislead us as to the existence of a human soul. A non-human is a pet animal, not a fellow-creature. That, frankly, is the only possible ground upon which they can be approached. If we expect no more of them than we should of a pet bird, if we manage them as we should manage a kitten, we have got as near to the solution of the problem as we are ever likely to get until the Dark Angel mercifully restores them to their own kingdom; a mercy seldom long delayed, for non-humans do not make old bones.
Human beings may also come into touch with elemental beings by themselves venturing into the spheres of elemental life. Such contacts need not necessarily be harmful to either kingdom provided those who enter into them know what they are about. In fact, such associations are frequently entered into by occultists in the course of their work and researches, but it is an undertaking for the advanced initiate only, not for neophytes.
There are cases, however, where such an association may lead to harm. The human partner in the association may be ill-equipped or ill-adapted for the undertaking. He may have ventured out beyond his depth, having picked up a formula from some more experienced occultist and used it without proper preparation. Or again, it is not uncommon to find people who have brought through from previous incarnations a natural aptitude for getting into touch with the elemental kingdoms. In such cases it may occur that an elemental who has had experience of relations with human beings may deliberately get into touch with them. This is in every way undesirable, for the elemental has not got the knowledge of human conditions necessary to enable it to avoid injuring its new friend. In any case, elementals have got a one-way intelligence, and it is not well that they should be senior partners in any alliance with human beings. The whole question of elemental contacts, an exceedingly fascinating one, is too extensive and intricate to be entered upon in these pages. It has been necessary to refer to it, however, for certain cases of psychic difficulty may be due to inexpert operations on both sides of the Veil.
These elementals, or nature spirits, are quite different to the controls with whom Spiritualistic circles come into touch. The Spiritualistic movement is highly organised on the Inner Planes, and promiscuous controlling is not permitted. Controls have, in fact, to “sit” for development in just the same way that mediums do, and there is invariably some experienced entity within call who can come to the assistance of the circle if all is not going well. Western Occultism was thoroughly disorganised and broken up by centuries of persecution; its Inner Plane conditions, consequently, present many tangles and gaps even to this day. It is nothing like as well organised as the Spiritualistic sphere. The great Orders have their definite contacts and work strictly within them, keeping a firm hand on neophytes; outside the Orders there is a good deal of chaos and banditry, and it is unwise to venture far save in the company of an experienced occultist who understands the technique of the methods employed.
There are many people for whom the Deva Kingdom, as the sphere which the elementals share with the Nature Spirits is sometimes called, has a great fascination, and they try by meditation and ritual to get into touch with it. In my opinion it is decidedly risky for a person who is not an initiate to attempt this work. It is exceedingly apt to lead to mental unbalance, if not to actual obsession. Not that the nature contacts are evil, but they are profoundly disturbing to the human consciousness because they stir those atavistic depths which the psycho-analyst aims at laying bare by means of his technique. Anyone who is acquainted with the literature or practice of psycho-analysis knows that the ab-reaction is an important factor in this system; it is a crisis, and can, for the time being at any rate, upset the patient pretty thoroughly and exacerbate all his symptoms. When we touch the elemental contacts we get the same reaction that is caused by psycho-analysis when the censor is being penetrated.
Persons in whom the subconscious mind is near the surface, such as the artist, the crank, the unstable, and, for the matter of that, the genius in any walk of life, love the elemental contacts because they stimulate the elemental forces in their own nature which are to them the springs of their power and inspiration. But the average citizen, whose mental content is organised largely in a basis of repression and compromise in order that he may be a citizen at all and take his place in organised society, is upset by the elemental contacts according to the proportion of repression to compromise in his make-up. Compromise is the normal lot of humanity; repression is the pathology of compromise. The person who has managed to effect a working compromise between the different elements of his nature can afford to allow himself a holiday with the Devas without doing any body any harm; but the person who is repressed will find that they disagree with him actively because they are having the same effect upon him that a drastic psycho-analysis would have. We hear sometimes of the tragedy that results from taking the last dose in a bottle of tonic of which arsenic is one of the ingredients. This is due to the fact that the bottle has not been thoroughly shaken up each time a dose has been taken, so that the arsenical sediment has all collected in the last dose and reached a poisonous concentration. So it is with the elemental contacts; they are a potent tonic, but they can reach a poisonous concentration under unsuitable circumstances.
I have never come across or heard of a case of pathology due to the fascination of the Element of Earth; it is not an element that usually attracts the amateur experimenter, though the initiate appreciates its value and importance. I have come across cases, however, of sensitive people dwelling in a mountainous country, especially in narrow gulches where there is a paucity of sunlight, who have become obsessed with the fear of the mountains. They do not fear so much that the mountains will fall upon them as that they will close over them, as the cave closed upon the children who followed the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The psychiatrist will, of course, recognise this symptom as belonging to the well-known psycho-neurosis of claustrophobia. This, however, does not invalidate my statement; for in my opinion we may find that in a more intimate knowledge of the elemental kingdoms we shall come upon the clue to both claustrophobia and agarophobia.
Mountaineers also know this peculiar terror with which the great hills can obsess mankind. It is neither giddiness nor mountain sickness, but a curious oppression of the spirits by the overwhelming grandeur of nature. The same force, when not at a poisonous concentration, inspires the passion ate love of the hills or of the sea that Kipling has celebrated so gloriously in one of his poems.
The pathologies of the Element of Water may be a fascination so great that a man will walk out into the sea until he drowns. Swinburne had this peculiarity, and has immortalised it in several of his poems, “Strike out as the heart in us bids and beseeches, athirst for the foam.” On one occasion he was picked up in the open sea by a Breton fishing-smack, swimming tirelessly, many miles from land, borne on the sea by currents, but oblivious of his danger. Being rescued, he sat upon the deck with his mane of red hair drying in the wind, chanting sea-poems to his rescuers, a spectacle that one would have given much to witness.
Another curious case of water-pathology I knew person ally. A very level-headed woman, a school teacher, was obsessed by a horror of rough waves. She always declared that if she went on the sea-front to watch a storm, the waves made a “dead set” at her. She lived at a seaside place, but so great was her dislike of the waves that she did not care to walk on the promenade when the tide was in. She was cured of her fear in a curious way. She took initiation into Co-Masonry, and found to her surprise that from that day forth she was free from her fear of the sea. I am not a Co-Mason, and speak subject to correction, but I believe I am right in saying that Co-Masonry differs from other forms of Masonry in that Elemental Invocations have been introduced into it.
The Element of Air, as all occultists know, is a very tricky element to deal with. More initiates turn off the Path in the Grade of Air than in any other, and it is rare to see a Ritual of Air worked without something being dropped or knocked over. It is a quarrelsome element; when it is being worked, the operators are apt to bicker and squabble. It is also intimately associated with sex, as is revealed by its symbolism. If an occultist is making a magic circle, and for any reason wishes to seal it with the Kerubim of the Elements instead of the Archangels, as is more commonly done, and feels himself unequal to the task of drawing a presentable eagle, the symbolic form of the Kerub of Air, he will use the Zodiacal sign for Scorpio. The evolutionary connection between the snake and the bird is well known to biologists; but long ages before Darwin, initiates used the Serpent and the Eagle to represent the unsublimated and sublimated aspects of the life-force. The Scorpion connects with the Serpent through the Dragon.
I had a very curious experience myself in connection with the Element of Air. I am betraying no secrets if I say that certain grades of initiation refer to the elements, for the fact is too generally known, and too obvious, for it to be any more mysterious than the Queen of Spain’s legs.
To begin with, I have an exceptionally bad head for heights, and as the Abyss of Height belongs to the Element of Air, I obviously have no natural affinity with it. The ceremony went exceptionally badly even for an Air Ritual. Two of the principal officers, husband and wife, helped to maintain its reputation as a contentious element by having a family jar in the middle of the proceedings, and the usual upsets and smashings occurred on a generous scale.
For the next fortnight I lived in the midst of a cataclysm of crockery. I smashed my way through two entire tea-sets and all the mantelpiece ornaments. The ornaments just fell off the mantelpiece one by one of their own accord. I actually saw two of them do it. I did not know at the time that the Element of Air had this sinister reputation. I realised that something queer was afoot, however, and asked my teacher about it. She was much amused, but I was not, because it was my crockery that was supplying the raw material for the phenomena. She advised me to get into sympathetic touch with the Sylphs, as the initiation had evidently not been altogether successful. I tried to do this, but I was in London at the time and met with no success, for the elemental contacts, with the exception of Fire, cannot be worked successfully in a city. The smashing went on, and I was reduced to a tin mug and a tooth-glass, for I saw it was useless to get any more china until things had settled down.
Then I went away for my summer holiday and found myself on the summit of a high and isolated hill on a day of bright sun and high wind. I was very conscious of the nearness of the elemental kingdoms. The air seemed full of silver sparkles, which is always a sign that the veil is thin. There was no one present save some friends who were sympathetic. I faced into the wind and raised my arms in Invocation. Suddenly we saw below us a figure bursting through hedges and leaping ditches and running wildly towards it. We presently recognised it as another of our friends, and when he joined us he told us that he had felt the sudden rush of power while in the valley and on an over powering impulse started for the hill-top. Then all of us, without any suggestion of leadership, began the Dance of the Elements, whirling like dancing dervishes upon that hill-top. Fortunately nobody was about, but I do not know that it would have made very much difference if they had been, for we were caught up out of ourselves and the air seemed full of rushing golden flames, lying level in the wind. For days afterwards we seemed charged with elemental energy by that extraordinary dance.
It may be interesting to note that we danced with a circular movement, each revolving on our own axis at the same time, and that we both danced and revolved deosil, that is, with the sun. All this occurred spontaneously, the tide of the elements catching us up and away. I have never known a more glorious experience. It was indeed the divine inebriation of the Mysteries.
After this there were no more smashings of crockery.
I have already noted my exceptionally bad head for heights. I have found that it is considerably mitigated, temporarily at any rate, by the Invocation of Air. I am of the opinion that the curious impulse which causes people for no reason whatsoever to commit suicide by throwing themselves from heights may be due to the same impulse that causes people who are obsessed by the Element of Water to swim out to sea, as I have recorded of Swinburne.
These apparently causeless suicides by Water and Air are, in my opinion, a form of union with the god which is one of the ideas underlying human sacrifice. There are two types of human sacrifice, the willing and the unwilling. The unwilling sacrifice, the prisoner struggling or drugged into passivity, is used, not to propitiate the god, as is usually thought, but in order that his vital forces may serve as a basis of manifestation. The willing sacrifice, in which the victim will be either a priest or a devotee of the god, has for its motive the idea of divine union, not altogether unknown to Christian mystics, who seek its achievement by a living death, whereas the adherents of Juggernaut escape with one brief pang.
The European belief of one man, one life, has imbued us with the idea of death as the supreme evil. Therefore the European very often does not go to his death when he unites with the elements, but his higher self withdraws from incarnation, leaving his body ensouled by a curious kind of intelligent automaton, which deteriorates rapidly. What ever may be the status of the soul that withdraws, that which is left behind is not nice. I feel, therefore, that it must seriously delay and distort the evolution of the human Monad if it turns aside into the sphere of the Deva evolution. It may well be that some of the creatures whom at first sight we might classify as non-humans are really humans who have had a Deva phase in their Karmic record. There is a very interesting field of research awaiting the person who systematically investigates the past lives of the weak- minded and the mentally deranged.
The pathologies of the Element of Fire are also rare, though it may be that the aimless incendiary and pyromaniac belong to this class. I have never personally had any opportunity of investigating this type of case. Algernon Blackwood writes of one in his very interesting story, “The Regeneration of Lord Ernie,” which is published in his volume of short stories entitled Incredible Adventures.
Indeed, this author is exceedingly fond of drawing his inspiration from the Deva kingdom, and has some most interesting studies of the subject scattered through his books.
Any organic geographical unit develops something of an oversoul, and where the differentiation is marked, the over soul may become a very definite entity. If there are among the inhabitants of the district any who are sensitive to the Unseen, they may form either an affinity or a repulsion for this oversoul. A great forest has a very marked personality, and there are few white men who can resist its influence, becoming markedly changed and de-humanised if exposed to it for long periods without the companionship of others of their race. Natives, on the other hand, seem to enter into it and be part of it.
It is well known how often trees are objects of worship in all parts of the world. They have very marked personalities and strong magnetic fields. In the spring, when the sap is rising, even non-psychics can often see the aura of a tree. It can best be seen by getting at a distance of a couple of hundred yards and looking at the sky beyond the top of the tree. The aura will then be perceived as a whitish cloud, like a patch of lighter-coloured sky, surrounding the top of the tree, and usually swaying gently from side to side.
There is a curious antagonism between elms and humanity, and about orchids all sensitive persons agree there is some thing sinister. Tropical vegetation, as a whole, is over-powerful for humanity. Under the tremendous stimulation of the solar fire the elemental forces are concentrated to a poisonous strength. I am not personally acquainted with the West Coast of Africa, but from what I can gather I am of the opinion that the elemental forces and the atmosphere made by Juju rites are between them more responsible than the climate for earning that part of the world its sinister reputation as the White Man’s Grave. There are other spots where the climate is equally hot and humid, Burmah, for instance, but there is no other spot that produces the same loosening of moral fibre. The only place that is at all comparable to it is the Carribbean Sea, which produces, not so much a demoralisation, as a fierceness and violence quite alien to the racial characteristics of the people who go there.
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